Schäuble On German Endgame Plans: Can't Let A European Crisis Go To Waste

That the most important man in Europe is actually a woman is now understood by everyone. Yet behind even Merkel, sits another man: German finance minister Wolfgang Schäuble, who is truly the devious mastermind behind the European endspiel, in charge of playing it in a way that benefits Germany uber alles. Which is why what Schäuble says, unlike anything uttered by Europe's "beggar" states, is actually important. Today, he speaks with Spiegel magazine and discusses, among many other things, the topic that is the most sensitive for the rest of Europe, and which must be overcome if a united Europe is to work: the abdication of national sovereignty, and implicitly the accession of Germany to the head of the European pyramid. That this will never happen is precisely why the European experiment is ultimately doomed, but of course they can keep trying, and in the process transfer as much wealth as possible to the only beneficiary from an imploding EUR. Wild guess who that is... Because at the end of the day, it appears that Schäuble is just as wily as America's own Rahm Emanuel: "SPIEGEL: With all due respect to your vision, is there truly more willingness today among EU member states to give up sovereignty than there was in the 1990s? Schäuble: The recognition that this is necessary, and the willingness to do so, has certainly grown due to the crisis, and not just in Germany. I would much prefer that we not have so many crises, and particularly not such severe ones. But every crisis also includes the opportunity to recognize what is necessary [regarding European sovereignty]. That's what led to the fiscal pact, in which 25 EU countries pledged to improve their fiscal discipline. And that's also how the new Europe will come about." Is it finally becoming clear to even the most inept financial journalists what the German endgame is?

The ECB Is Delighted That Three Of Its Sponsored Teams Have Made It To The Euro2012 Semi-Finals

They may not be doing much of anything else lately (except for now proudly accepting Spiderman towels are collateral of course), but the European Central Bank sure is a fan of football, and the fact that three of the four teams in the Semi-finals come from countries officially funded by the ECB. We do have the feeling that letting Germany slip into the congratulatory tweet below was a mistake that will cost someone their taxpayer funded job.

Europe 1-2-3

There are two significant events that will be decided in the forthcoming days. Each will change the face of the European Union. The first is Greece; a little country with a total debt of $1.3 trillion and likely to default. The calculations in Athens are how to get more money out of Germany and the calculations in Berlin is whether a default is less costly, both politically and economically, than giving Greece more money. Debt forgiveness has never even been mentioned so I think we can rule out this possibility as it would have been floated by the German public for review and reaction. The Troika shows up Monday in Athens, they will find all targets missed, all promises unkempt and all hopes for salvation dashed upon the Greek floor along with the plates. The Greeks will beg and plead and threaten and the Germans will decide. In the end I think Greece will be allowed to stay in the EU to preserve the dream, that they will default, that they will return to the Drachma and that they will receive some kind of debtor in possession financing so that the country does not collapse. That is my best guess. Cheaper tourism and cheaper ships will help with their competiveness but it will be years before Greece is allowed back into the Eurozone as a voting member. The second item on the docket is Spain. They need a total of around $350-400 billion dollars to straighten out their banking system and their regional debt. Money lent to the banks in some fashion, not currently allowable under the various policies but you never know, or money lent to the sovereign to be lent to the banks will be just the first tranche of funding. It will be followed by more money lent to the regions of Spain which may take another novel approach but no matter. Spain is about to be run out of Germany no matter how all of the trivialities play out and so the impositions of the Men in Black are about to be put in place. So long to the importance of Madrid and thanks for all of the entertainment. You have been caught and are about to be hung out to dry and enjoy the ice wine that Germany will provide for your congratulatory dinner. Rajoy was right, a “Great Victory for Europe;” serving ice wine in Madrid.

Eric Sprott Presents The Ministry of [Un]Truth

We have no doubt that everyone is tired of bad news, but we are compelled to review the facts: Europe is currently experiencing severe bank runs, budgets in virtually every western country on the planet are out of control, the banking system is running excessive leverage and risk, the costs of servicing the ever-increasing amounts of government debt are rising rapidly, and the economies of Europe, Asia and the United States are slowing down or are in full contraction. There's no sugar coating it and we have to stop listening to politicians and central planners who continue to downplay, obfuscate and flat out lie about the current economic reality. Stop listening to them.

Waiting For Godot

In the next days Greece will present her magic tricks at court and while the Dukes and Barons cheer in the wings it will be up to the Red Queen, this would be the bearer of the Holstein emblem, to decide if the tricks performed are worth the cost. There is a very good chance of the hand wave of dismissal here and then the theatrical event of the season, “Off with their Heads,” will begin. Then the savant of Madrid will be allowed in to show his wares claiming they are all of silk but coarse wool is closer to the truth. The money, if it comes, will be provided by the EFSF by the way because the ESM is not yet in existence. Then the plan is to transfer the loan to the ESM which will be senior to the holders of the Spanish sovereign debt. So this morning you must rush out and by the debt of Spain. You love to be subjugated; you delight in the masochism of the whip. Losing money is what you live for and why you breathe. Oh no; this is not you? Well then; maybe better not.

Austerians Versus Keynesians

The battle between the 'Austerians' and the 'Keynesians' remains front-and-center in Europe (and elsewhere for that matter). As Sean Corrigan noted recently Frau Merkel is sticking to the only strategy that she can - of insisting that future aid is tied to the construction of budgetary oversight, reduced national sovereignty, and the implementation of labor market reforms - paying lip-service to her nation's unwillingness to pay for what they view as their counterparts' indolence or improvidence. How long this can last is an open guess. Stratfor's Kristen Cooper provides a succinct clip of the state of European Austerity (seeing little progress in reality and in fact a pull-back by Italy and France at the realization that their electorate won't be happy!!). Perhaps, as Corrigan notes, the real lesson is to be had from the Baltics, where 'drastic devaluation' has accompanied genuine 'austerity' - and as a result of this bitter medicine, they are now growing private GDP. As Corrigan sums up, [Austerity as it is being implemented in Europe] is aimed not so much at reinvigorating individual endeavour as at minimizing the reduction in the reach and importance of the state (satisfying neither the Keynesians nor the Austrians) and that is what is self-defeating about such measures.

Phoenix Capital Research's picture

Months ago, I forecast that Germany will walk before it goes “all in” on the EU to prop up everyone else. I believe that day is fast approaching. Unless Angela Merkel wants to commit political suicide, she will be forced to protect Germany’s domestic issues. Whether this comes as a result of Germany pre-emptively leaving the Euro or doing so after one of the PIIGS has already left remains to be seen. But in the end, Germany WILL WALK IF IT HAS TO.

Europe's Three Ring Circus

First and foremost; nothing is happening in the European Union without the agreement of Germany. They have the gold and they will make the rules regardless of the words bandied about proclaiming brotherly love and the solidarity of the European nations. This is all drivel, just politics and a subject that can be ignored as you concentrate on what is really important. When Germany speaks, on a scale of 1-10 with 10 being the most important; Germany is a 10 and the only 10 on the Continent.

Guest Post: Abandoning Ship - The Eurozone Is Failing At An Accelerating Rate

Despite what her officials say publicly, austerity has limited support within the ECB itself, because it is run at the top by neoclassical economists. Instead, the real constraint is Germany, whose citizens’ savings are on the line and which faces the prospect of its third currency collapse in a century. So this is where the lines are drawn up: spendthrifts desperate for more money, a conflicted central bank, and Germany. Angela Merkel has made considerable progress in pushing the German electorate in a direction that is completely against its instincts by playing the political card marked “there is no alternative.” With her considerable political skills, she may be able to push her people some more, but it is becoming increasingly difficult, because everyone in Germany can see that committing real savings to bailing out the spendthrifts only wipes out the savings. These are not euros simply conjured out of thin air, because the Bundesbank cannot print them and probably wouldn’t do so anyway. But the pressure is mounting on her, and she is being squeezed by governments such as the British and the Americans, who are now panicking over the consequences of failure. This is why both countries went public last week, with David Cameron even visiting Merkel in person. It is a sure indication that major governments outside the Eurozone are beginning to expect the worst, and that unless Germany gives way, it will happen quickly.

Europe's New, New Math

The focus of the markets these days is driven by the headlines that are pumped out by the European Union. Hope is promised, the next big summit to fix all issues is touted, Germany is going to come around any day is offered up as Ms. Merkel denies any such thing and “muddling through” holds up prices as the by-word of belief  as the blinders of the great propaganda machine direct everyone’s attention away from what is most important. As one example of this is some firewall, no matter what size, that does not do one thing to address the core issues of Italy and Spain which both have too much debt and too many other liabilities in a time of recession where contingent liabilities become outright liabilities and hidden in a vast variety of ways. These firewalls accomplish nothing except to dissuade investors from being involved and their capitalization weakens the finances of the countries providing the capital, whether counted or not, and ends up weakening the balance sheets of the core countries of Europe as we roll from promises and guarantees to moments when real money must be put up. If you stand far enough back you can visualize what is going on; “look at our firewall and do not pay attention to the countries which are having severe economic declines” and so the head fake continues until it cannot any longer as the bills overcome the ability of a nation to pay them.

And For Today's Market Ramp Rumor Du Jour We Have...

It has been a while since the Guardian came up with a European "bailout" rumor. Time to change that. In a nutshell: Germany will somehow allow a fund, the ESM, which does not yet even exist, overturn the primary principle of the Eurozone, the no sovereign bailout clause, and use money which has not been funded, to subordinate bondholders across the entire continent (because ESM is priming) and serve as an additional secured lender in addition to the ECB... In other words, the ESM will take place of the ECB's SMP. With the only difference that the ECB can print money, while the unfunded ESM will at best rely on the murky details of repo lending. Same subordination either way, of course.

Humpty Van Rompuy Has Fallen Off The Wall

Europe also allows for sovereign debt to be counted as risk-free assets and not marked-to-market. Many nations, Spain is one example, allow for Real Estate loans, mortgages and even commercial loans to be carried at face value as a matter of financial engineering. I think it is a bad joke but the bite has come. This occurs when the loans no longer pay and the revenues are no longer present no matter how you carry them on your books. Then, if the banks try to off-load the properties they have assumed they take losses which are real losses and have to be accounted for on the books or they are securitized and placed as collateral at the ECB which then hides the problem for a while but not indefinitely and the “indefinite” has run out of time which is why any number of banks are calling “Uncle” and why the sovereign nation nations are crying “Uncle” and trying to deflect their problems first back to the ECB and then to find some new scheme so that the country does not fall victim to the Men in Black. All fine, all dandy, but, once again, the central issues are not dealt with and all of the schemes like all of the King’s men and horses cannot put Humpty back together again.

Humpty has fallen off the wall.